The SDK for Kinect is will launch this spring as a free download from Microsoft's Web site.
"The community that has blossomed since the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360 in November shows the breadth of invention and depth of imagination possible when people have access to groundbreaking technology" said Microsoft's Steve Clayton, in a blog post Wednesday.
"Already, researchers, academics and enthusiasts are thinking through what's next in natural and intuitive technology," said Clayton. He noted that students at the University of Washington's Biorobotics Lab are already using Kinect for research into robotic surgery. "Natural and intuitive technologies such as Kinect can be more than just a great platform for gaming and entertainment."
The Kinect SDK is undergoing development by the company's Interactive Entertainment Business unit in collaboration with Microsoft Research.
Microsoft launched Kinect last November, and the gaming system has quickly become one of the company's hottest products. Along with the hardware, Microsoft unveiled a slew of Kinect-compatible games. The most high-profile title on the list is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 1 The Videogame." From Electronic Arts, the $49.99 game gives players the chance to assume the character of the famous boy wizard.
Also available are Kinectimals (Frontier Studios), which lets players interact with on screen zoo animals, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (Ubisoft), which provides exercise routines with the help of a virtual, on-screen trainer, and Kinect Sports (Rare), which lets users play simulated soccer, bowling, volleyball, and other games.
Kinect Joy Ride (Big Park) is billed as the world's first hands-free racing game, and Dance Central (MTV Games) allows players to groove to tunes by artists like Lady Gaga, No Doubt, M.I.A., and more.